With the branch in Maengwyn Street decked out in balloons and daffodils to mark St David's Day, long-standing customer Morfydd Bowyer cut the celebration cake to get the event underway. Ninety-year-old Morfydd has banked at NatWest in Machynlleth for over 60 years and has also starred in one of the bank's promotional videos. The cake was provided by another customer, Mrs Carol Lewis.
Customers tucked into Welsh cakes and bara brith as branch staff donned traditional 19th century costumes from the period when the branch opened. Also on hand to enjoy the celebrations was Mike Bamber, NatWest's managing director of branch banking for the UK, who made a special trip to Machynlleth for the event.
NatWest's Machynlleth branch first opened in 1836 as a branch of the National Provincial Bank of England. The bank had been founded in 1833 and by 1835 it already had 20 branches in the UK and was on the lookout for new locations. On 1st March 1836 the bank decided to open a branch in Machynlleth, under the initial management of Mr Hallowes, manager of the bank's branch in Dolgellau. Soon afterwards Captain Thruston was appointed as local director for Machynlleth, and by May of that year, the branch had opened its doors.
The branch has operated from its current premises in Maengwyn Street since at least 1881. By the end of 1910, the bank had 350 branches in the UK, with over 90 in Wales. In 1918, National Provincial Bank of England merged with Union of London & Smith's Bank to form one of the emerging 'big five' High Street banks. The new bank traded through more than 700 local offices, and in 1924, following a series of acquisitions, the bank's name was shortened to National Provincial Bank.
In December 1929, the Machynlleth branch moved from 22 Maengwyn Street to temporary premises nextdoor to allow for improvement work to be carried out. It returned to the fully-renovated permanent premises on 6 May 1930. Following another merger in 1970, this time with Westminster Bank, the Machynlleth branch began to trade under the name National Westminster Bank, more commonly known as NatWest.
Branch manager Eirlys Pugh said: "It was a wonderful coincidence that our 175th anniversary fell on St David's Day - a cause for a double celebration. Thank you so much to Morfydd for agreeing to cut the cake, and it was great to see our managing director making the trip to Mach to help us celebrate."
"As a bank we are always keen to look forward, making sure that we move with the times to give our customers what they want. That said, it's also important to mark these milestones that remind us how long we've been providing a service to our local community. The six of us who work at the branch have over 150 years' banking experience between us, though I wouldn't like to say just how long I have been with NatWest!"